How Long Does Truth Remain True with Scientific Data?

by ProfKeith

“A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a lunatic.” –Dresden James

This week sees the launch of my new book Medicine Beyond (at last!) It’s so shocking that my friend William Tiller wouldn’t do an endorsement! He’s still stuck in his comfortable physics, though he himself is known for being pretty radical. Bear in mind that Bill loved my 1999 book Virtual Medicine!

[Lovely Norman Shealy MD has done me a beauty of an endorsement, as you will see]

Scientists, it seems, have a hard time stepping outside of their own framework of reference and—whereas he’s happy to attach speculations on the nature of being and consciousness to his science—he hasn’t grasped that the physics (which had him professor at Stanford University) has simply gone out of date!

Let me show a graphic that’s in the book. It shows that gravity cannot possibly be what we have always been taught (in fact, gravity probably doesn’t exist… it was invented long ago when other forces were unknown).

allais-scientific-data

It’s measuring the swing of a Foucault pendulum during an eclipse of the Sun at around 12:00 pm.

If gravity were what we are told, there should be no change at all in the pendulum’s swing, which should follow the diagonal dotted line. But you can see clearly that from around 11:30 to 12:45 the pendulum swings wildly off. Not a little bit—a huge departure—which tells us that gravity is not what is making the pendulum swing.

Gravity is probably the most out-of-date concept in all of science.

But Bill Tiller couldn’t hack me saying it. He disapproves. What can I do? I can only tell the truth as I see it and subscribers know… I always turn out correct in the end! Truth is a shifting quicksand of opinions and theories.

Nothing stays still. As Greek philosopher Heraclitus (c. 535 BC – 475 BC) told us, everything is change. His philosophy of this is summed up in a famous phrase: “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. Incidentally, it was Heraclitus who gave us the term Logos in Western philosophy as meaning both the source and fundamental order of the Cosmos. Logos appears repeatedly as the suffix –ology, meaning science or study of.

It’s very embarrassing for scientists like Bill, I’m sure. Something that was “proven” to be true is later proved to be NOT true. The accepted idea that calling something scientific means it is a given or incontrovertibly true is thus a joke. The honest fact is that all truth changes. It would be hard to define anything as a lasting and permanent scientific “fact”; even gravity is now on the chopping block.

The Statistics & Scientific Data

Scholars in their halls have developed the concept of a “half-life of truth”.

Half-life, remember, is the measurement of how long it takes a radio-active substance to decay to half of its initial activity. This can be a matter of just minutes, as for Barium-122; 29 years, as in the case of strontium-90; or millennia, in the case of carbon-14, which has a half-life of 5730 years.

But here they are using the term somewhat flippantly to mean the point at which half the knowledge base is considered to be no longer valid. So, for a given body of facts, there will be a moment in history when half of it is no longer correct; the truth will have decayed. That means the body of scientific data has become so corrupted, it cannot be taken seriously as fact.

It was always joked at med school when I was there that half of what we learned would be out of date in five years; trouble was nobody knew which half! That’s the main problem actually: once data have become unreliable, certainty is to a large degree negated. All of it becomes worthless.

Surprisingly, it is now possible to put numbers to this. It started with a team of researchers at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, France. Thierry Poynard and his colleagues looked at the literature for their field: liver disease, especially cirrhosis and hepatitis. The team located nearly 500 articles in this field from over 50 years and gave them to a panel of experts to examine. Each expert was charged with saying whether the paper was factual, out-of-date or even disproved.

What they found was interesting. Yes, the validity of the papers had decayed significantly1. It emerged that the half-life for knowledge in this field was 45 years. In another paper I found in The Lancet, a pair of surgeons went through a similar procedure with published papers in their field and came up with the same figure: 45 years2.

scientific-data-IG

 

Citations & Citing Scientific Data

This isn’t pure science, of course. The numbers and dates arrived at were themselves subject to mere opinion. Clearly, a panel of old goats who are clinging to the status quo will give more credibility to older trend-setting papers than a team of young bloods, anxious to move forward into their own bright future as experts.

But there is another way to estimate when scientific data has become obsolete and that’s by measuring how often a particular paper is cited by subsequent publications. Once no one refers to the material and conclusions any more, it is understood that it is probably no longer valid.

Of course this is not an absolute judgment, because a perfectly valid paper could be overtaken by torrents of later publications, which say much the same thing and therefore the original data are not disproven.

Nevertheless, there is a point to be made and these reviews somewhat prove what I said. What is “proven science” constantly changes and evolves.

What about other fields than health? What is the apparent half-life of knowledge in physics, say, or economics?

It has emerged that for physics, it’s about 10 years for papers and 13 years for books about physics; whereas books on economics are 50% out of date after only 9 years.

Creeping Change

This is important because people often don’t notice that change is creeping up on them. Things learned as a child or at med school could be completely overthrown before the end of a physician’s working life, yet he or she may never notice. This is especially likely if that practitioner does not trouble to stay up to date with science—and most don’t. Indeed, I have noticed, most physicians are not even up to date with changes in medicine, never mind progress in science at large!

Why am I dwelling on this at length? Because in the field of health and healing, my field, things are moving fast, there is a torrent of new and refreshing ideas; yet the medical establishment has barely registered any awareness of holistic and alternative health, never mind the validity of energy medicine!

We are talking about the “new physics”, while medical orthodoxy is still in Newtonian mode from high school days; centuries out of date science, in other words. It’s no longer a good joke to scoff at energy medicine as a healing modality because, as I say often, advanced physics doesn’t just tell us that these strange phenomena could it happen; it tells us they must happen!

The entrenched dogma has, quite simply, expired.

To get bang up to date with the new medicine, read my new book. I had to start by sorting out the mess that science has found itself in. Then I go on to unfold a whole raft of wonderful, inspiring, workable and above all… healing ideas!

It truly is a model of medicine beyond the cramped confines of mechanistic science…

GET YOUR COPY HERE.

References:
1. Annals of Internal Medicine, vol 136, P. 888
2. The Lancet, vol. 350, p. 1752

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